Chantal Blaak took her first victory in the rainbow jersey on Saturday. In stage four of the Healthy Aging Tour, she outsprinted a lead group of five. Blaak is the third Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team rider to win a stage in the 2018 Healthy Aging Tour, on top of the team time trial win on Friday afternoon.
"I had to wait a bit for this moment to happen, but now I’ve got my win,” responded Blaak. "I've been riding really well for a few weeks now. The confidence was there, so that I have that win now is really nice.”
The plan for today was clear. With Amy Pieters in the leader's jersey and three teammates holding positions two to four in the GC, the goal was to increase the lead even further.
"We wanted to create some gutter action today and it happened quite quickly," said Blaak. "We looked at the map and the wind directions, and we already knew what was going to happen. It was very nervous in the neutralisation and we already heard a crash."
"At that point you know; there’s only one thing to do and that’s going as fast as you can with the team, right from the start. All four of us where there in the first echelon and then you know you’re looking at a great final.”
Thirteen riders were able to get themselves in the lead group, among them the four Boels-Dolmans riders in the top four of the GC: Pieters, Blaak, Anna van der Breggen and Christine Majerus. Stage 3a winner, Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High5) and the wearer of the white young rider jersey, Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), where in there as well.
The advantage of these thirteen riders quickly increased, so it quickly became clear that the winner of the longest stage in the 2018 Healthy Aging Tour would come out of this group. There was a good cooperation between the riders, until the final commenced.
"In the final, it’s my job to attack, which I did," said Blaak. "We managed to get off the front with five. It had already been a very tough day and there had been echelons from the beginning of the sage, plus I had attacked a couple of times in the final. At that point it's just the one with best legs left who wins.”
"The arrival was not really something for me," said Blaak about the curvy, narrow passage to the finish line. "But we were only with five now, so that’s easier to manage. It was a fight towards that last corner, because everyone wants to go through that bend first. Kirsten was the first to go through it and then I honestly thought: I’ll never pass her. But in the end I did, so that's very nice. "
With one more stage to go, it looks like Pieters will win her first stage race tomorrow in Groningen.
"We hope so," Blaak beamed. "We’ll have to do it first though. We all have to finish safely in Groningen. But we're going to make it a nice day.”
The last stage in the Healthy Aging Tour is a criterium-style race in the city center of Groningen. With a length of over 90 kilometers, the stage starts at 2pm CET. There will be alive stream right from the start on Podium.TV and the finish is exected round 4.15pm CET.